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Wednesday May 29, 2024

LHC declares notification accepting resignations of 72 PTI MNAs void

PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar says the court has given a “historic decision”

By Naveen Ali
May 19, 2023
In this picture, the Lahore High Court building can be seen. — LHC website/File
In this picture, the Lahore High Court building can be seen. — LHC website/File

In a major setback for the ruling alliance, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday declared “null and void” the notification about acceptance of the resignations of 72 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) , including Fawad Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar, and Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

LHC’s Justice Shahid Karim issued the order while hearing a petition filed by former MNA Riaz Fatyana against the acceptance of their resignations.

During the course of proceedings, Justice Karim declared that the acceptance of the resignations by the NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was “invalid”.

A court had directed the 72 members to appear before the NA speaker to withdraw their resignations and instructed the NA speaker to take a decision after hearing all the members again.

The notifications of accepting the resignations of Shafqat Mahmood and Fatyana were also declared “null and void”.

‘Historic decision’

Speaking to media personnel outside the LHC, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said that the court had given a “historic decision”.

“With this decision, the [country’s] political crisis will also be resolved,” he declared.

He said that the court had accepted the petition against the de-notification of PTI MNA, who would now appear before the speaker.

He further added that after appearing in the inquiry, the MNAs would retract their resignations.

“Once the ECP’s de-notification is retracted, these MNA’s will be able to join the National Assembly,” he shared.

He further said that with the reversal of the resignations, PTI Chairman Imran Khan would be able to “play his role for the nation as the opposition leader in Parliament.”

“It is hoped that the speaker will complete the inquiry as per the law and allow the PTI MNAs to return [to the assembly],” he said.

‘Step towards democracy’

The former MNA, while addressing the media outside the provincial top court said that the court’s decision was a “positive step towards the constitution and democracy”.

There is no democracy without opposition, Fatyana said, adding that the PTI’s return to Parliament would bring back “real democracy” to the country.

“Pervez Ashraf is the custodian of entire House and does not represent any party,” he said, adding, “[We have] pinned all our hopes on Raja Pervez Ashraf.”

The resignation saga

The MNAs were among the lawmakers who had resigned after the PTI-led government was ousted via a no-confidence motion in April last year.

Back then, the PTI had claimed that resignations were accepted by former deputy speaker Qasim Suri in the absence of a speaker after Asad Qaiser's resignation.

Speaker Ashraf, after his election, approved the resignations of 11 PTI lawmakers in July 2022. He had stalled the process stating the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.

However, contrary to his stance, he quickened the process once PTI in January announced its return to the assembly and "test" the PM through a confidence vote.

The PTI resignations were accepted by NA speaker Ashraf in four stages: 11 in the first phase, while 35, 34, and 43 in the second, third, and fourth phases, respectively.

However, several PTI lawmakers challenged the decision in the LHC.

The high court, while suspending the ECP notification had also stayed the by-elections on 43 constituencies till further notice.